The vain person’s guide to dressing for winter

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The lowest fashion moment of my holiday.

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The detailing on my wool coat bought in Poland.

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The delicate little gloves I bought in South Africa which I very quickly had to replace in Europe with a warmer pair.

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Trying to look good under the coat was a challenge too.

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My trusty pashminas – I would never trade them for a traditional scarf.

As I write this I am sitting in a vest and short-shorts back in the comfort of the South African summer. I also have to admit that I did not manage to find the holy grail this holiday; that is the ability to look and feel stylish while staying warm.

While we were in Paris walking along the river, a beautiful girl, in all black, long hair loose and blowing in the wind floated past (stylish people don’t walk, they float). I looked at her with all the envy and horror my body could spare since all my energy was concentrated on not crying from the cold. She had on a very light coat, no scarf and no beanie. I think she was even wearing heels.

At that same moment I on the other hand had on:
*two thermal vest,
*a top,
*two jerseys,
*a coat,
*2 pairs of stockings and jeans,
*2 pairs of gloves,
*2 pairs of socks cutting off the circulation to my feet, and
*a beanie AND a scarf wrapped around my neck and over my beanie.

It didn’t matter that my coat was grey wool and really classic, or that my boots are a rich warm dark brown leather. I felt like a war-time refugee from Eastern Europe. I had failed.

Call me vain, it’s okay, I admit it myself. I am also sure I am not alone. I was devastated that the soft caramel-colored leather gloves I bought at the Market on Main before I left made my fingers feel like I was climbing Everest. I detested the layers and layers tucked into stocking pulled up to my waist.

Maybe the secret is acclimatization, or maybe the beautiful winter fairy was just as cold as I was. All I know is that I long for the day when I can walk beanie-free along the river in Paris, in the dead of winter, smiling like I’m on the beach in Mauritius.

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How do people live in this cold?

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I have been in Europe (Switzerland) for less than 24 hours and I really don’t know how people live in this cold. I realized within ten minutes of being outside that I would have to cast off any last shred of vanity I had in order to survive. Sorry, no more trying to do winter chic, I like having digits too much. I am on my way to Poland in an hours time and there I will be stocking up on proper socks and better the gloves – the adorable leather ones I found at the market the other day simply weren’t made for below zero degree temperatures.

I hope the weather gods will smile on me and the temperatures will creep up a little. Those who know me must be laughing in between pitying me because they know how much I struggle in Joburg winters. I am glad we left Poland before I reached an age when you actually start to notice how cold it is because you have to be outside for reasons other than playing.

On the plus side, Zug, where I am staying in Switzerland, is really beautiful and you can see from some of these photos. I am looking forward to photographing it some more when I am back (and suitably attired) on Thursday and Friday.